THE OWNER of one of Ireland's most famous bars has hit out at the government for supposedly blaming the coronavirus crisis on pubs and pub-goers.
Tom Cleary, who runs the Temple Bar in Dublin, has roundly slammed the government's approach to the pandemic, criticising them for creating a "folly" that "pubs cause the virus" and for potentially crippling the industry by keeping so called 'wet pubs' closed.
"Offices are closed, there's no tourists, Dublin city centre is dead," he told the Irish Independent.
"The Health Minister and civil servants are detached from reality. The rumours are the pubs won't be allowed to open on August 10, that it'll be pushed back due to an increase in cases.
"That's unfair. We were closed for months, so it's not our fault there are more cases.
"The Government needs to look at house parties and excessive drinking from drinks bought in off-licences and supermarkets."
Pubs across the country were universally closed back in March, but those able to offer customers a 'substantial meal' worth €9 or over were given license to reopen at the end of June as part of Ireland's reopening plan.
Pubs without the capacity to serve food have had to wait, and can only open once Ireland enters Phase Four of the plan - something which was due to happen on July 20, but was then pushed back to August 10.
The reason for this was because the country experienced something of an increase in Covid-19 cases - something which was blamed on the reopening of pubs a few weeks prior. But Clearly thinks this is an unfair conclusion to leap to.
"Pubs offer a controlled environment to drink in. Our pub is licensed for 600 people, so we can easily cut it to 150 and have relaxed social distancing for people and staff," he added.
"Let us sign up to that and open up. We have two beer gardens, an outdoor seating area. It's a folly that pubs are causing the virus. The Government is keeping us closed without reason."
A decision as to whether or not the country moves forward with the plan on August 10 is due today, with the Cabinet meeting to discuss further movement on the reopening plan.